Simple Living – Building a Pantry or Store Cupboard

Grocery shopping has long been a bit of a ‘headache’ for me.  Being disorganised and never remembering what food i had at home to build a meal on, meant that very often when i did a large grocery shop i made unneccesary purchases,  triplicating some  items while having none of others. I made lists but being so forgetful i would sometimes forget to take it with me to the supermarket and if i did take it with me… sometimes i would forget to take it out of my bag at the start of the ‘shop’.

I know!


I have so many senior moments 🙂

At the tail end of last year i decided i needed, and more importantly, wanted, to be more organised about feeding my family. I had a think about it and i decided that what would work for me would be to do perhaps only 2 grocery ‘shops’  a month, and to make a concerted effort to build up a store cupboard or pantry.

I can’t tell you how many times I have nipped to the shops for a pint of milk or a pack of butter and invariably returning home with no change from a tenner, just a carrier bag of stuff i hadn’t planned on purchasing when i left the house.

Hopefully, by approaching my family’s grocery shop differently,  i would be able to make meal plans for at least the week ahead and avoid making impulse purchases,  thereby reducing the amount i spend in total each month on groceries. And if i became a savvy supermarket shopper i would always have the bare bones of a meal in, ready to conjure up something for dinner. (pardon the pun)

Aha!, i thought…..a well stocked pantry could be the answer to all my grocery and culinary problems!

But where to ‘put’ one?

Thinking about it some more, it didn’t take me long to realise that this really is not such a big house we live in. It is quite adequate for my family’s needs, but it doesn’t have a cellar or a garage and despite the new fitted kitchen, it really doesn’t have many kitchen cupboards whatsoever…so storage began to look like a problem when contemplating where to start building a pantry.

When i looked at what i had to work with though, it eventually dawned on me that the answer was quite literally staring me in the face. This house came with it’s own  small  larder built into the kitchen, but being as there isn’t a huge amount of storage space in the house i never thought of using the larder for food and had only ever used it as a space to store stuff that didn’t or couldn’t go somewhere else in the house.

For years the pantry has looked like this – actually it looks quite tidy in this pic – i had already moved all the paraphanalia from the bottom half, before i took this pic:


I decided to empty it and use the larder  as it was originally intended to be used, for food storage…who’d have thunk it? Fortunately I found a home for a lot of the mess…


On an old wire frame bookcase i had…


But when the pantry was empty it looked really grotty  and not at all the kind of place that i would want to store food…


I decided to see what it looked like once it had been tarted it up a bit.

I did some of the painting, but enlisted Wondergirl’s help to paint the low bits and the high bits. She didn’t realise at the time that she had paint in her hair…and i didn’t tell her for fear of her leaving me to do the painting alone ; – )

Oh shush now…it was only emulsion, it washed out no probs!


When painted, the larder/pantry looked heaps better:


After a good scrub up of the old tile slab and of the flooring, it was ready to start storing groceries in. It looked pretty bare when i started the project at Christmas…yes you heard me right…i started this little project at Christmas!

After Boxing Day this is what i spent about 4 days working on!  What can i say? I wanted a new start for the new year.

(The onion pictured  below is not to be eaten, it is there to absorb the paint odours! Is anyone else familiar with that little trick?)


Here is what the larder pantry looked like after a couple of months:


You know, i have read all sorts of stuff online about stockpiling being a selfish thing to do, but let me tell you, these past couple of weeks when i had no money to go grocery shopping i had enough food in to keep us fed.  I think some people might take stockpiling to extremes, but i also think that if it is possible to put a a bit of extra food aside when the offers are on and if you can afford it, then it makes perfect sense.

It’s also ideal for those days when you feel under the weather or don’t want to leave home. Yep, that little stash saved my bacon recently, pardon the pun…well that and a small chest freezer full of home made bread  and poultry that i had bought when it was on sale.

Now i just have to start work on building my storecupboard up again.

There’ll be more pantry posts, so if you like them keep an eye out for ’em!

This entry was posted in Frugality, Home & Family, Simply Living, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Simple Living – Building a Pantry or Store Cupboard

  1. Cathy says:

    This was very good. I remember when we had your “military experience” 30 some years ago when we only got 1 pay check/mo. That was a rude awakening. I had never had to manage money for 30 days and make it LAST! Soon learned to shop as you do. Then when they changed the pay to twice/month it was much easier to manage, though the budget was still tight.

    Your pantry is very nice!!!

  2. ukok says:

    Thanks for sharing about your ‘military experience’ Cathy. I can appreciate how difficult it must have been for you. Shopping just twice a month is very challenging, but shopping once a month? Crikey i bet you had to be so organised!

  3. Easter A. says:

    Missed you!!!
    You sure are crafty!!! I love those banners!!!

  4. I used to be “queen” of organized shopping (in my own mind, anyway!) When we were on active duty (we… like that? ha!) in the US Army, we got one check per month (though 2 is an option, one worked better for us) and I, also, would do one huge trip a month and then only go back for perishables. I also could stock up on some pantry items and we never ran out of food. I had 4 weeks worth of menus and knew what I was going to cook. It was beautiful. Now I find myself shopping nearly everyday! Ugh. If I were back in Germany where I could walk to the butcher and the baker and the other shops, that would be one thing. Now it requires a drive and like you said… I never come home with the few things I needed… always much more.

    I don’t know how doing this can be thought of as selfish. I mean I suppose it could be if you were “hoarding” food, but having enough for your family for a time and having some for a rainy day isn’t selfish and I know that I have shared from my stores with people I know who regularly struggle to make ends meet. Having the food stored up made it easy to grab some basic items and share them with those in need. Having extra has facilitated being able to bring a meal to a family with little notice of their need. Rather than being selfish, I find it prudent (we live in “tornado alley” and it is not unreasonable to think that we could have a major tornado that would seriously disrupt our ability to get food and other supplies) and the means for generosity. I think the way things have degraded in my own home is much more selfish. Thank you for the inspiration to get my stuff together again!

    Sorry for the long essay!

  5. Mimi says:

    Good job!
    We keep a running list on the fridge and take it to the grocery store. I find that when I take the last one out of the pantry and put it in the fridge, if I write it down right then, I don’t run out (or find myself with 12 mustards)

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